Wednesday, February 28

We remember you, Paul

When I was growing up in Perth, Paul Rigby was part of my life. I'd buy the now defunct afternoon paper, The Daily News (where I was later to be a sub-editor) , and turn to the back page to see Rigby's cartoon, trying to spot the little boy and the dog he always hid somewhere in the drawing. Then I'd read Kirwan Ward, the columnist who shared the back page.

When I became a cadet on the associated morning paper The West Australian, I was entranced by accounts of Rigby's promotion of the bar-room sport of limp falling. From individual limp falls at unexpected moments, the play moved to mass limp falling, and then more difficult moves like the triple pirouette with claret spray.

I've read a lot of obituaries since he died last year – the latest in The Walkley Magazine I received a few days ago – obits which reprinted some of the 15,000 cartoons he drew in a career which took him from Perth to London and New York.

But no-one's mentioned the one I remember best. During the Profumo scandal, Rigby drew two Colonel Blimp characters, seated in armchairs in a gentleman's club, whiskies in hand.

The caption: “Good God! A Negro, a Russian and Willie Astor! Not in that order, surely!”

What's that sonny? You've never heard of the Profumo affair? Well yes, I guess you weren't born then. It was all about shenanigans between very upper class Poms and a bed-hopping young "model" called Christine Keeler. You can read all about it here:

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